A day or so back I naively observed:
You can color me shocked if our Iran policy amounts to anything more than a half-assed retread of Iraq ‘02.
Silly me. If I wanted to salvage any hope of credibility I should have said that our Iran policy will amount to a half-assed retread of Iraq ‘02 plus nukes. From Hersh’s piece:
There is a growing conviction among members of the United States military, and in the international community, that President Bush’s ultimate goal in the nuclear confrontation with Iran is regime change.
People who already worry about the president’s growing messiah complex won’t get much encouragement:
A government consultant with close ties to the civilian leadership in the Pentagon said that Bush was “absolutely convinced that Iran is going to get the bomb” if it is not stopped. He said that the President believes that he must do “what no Democrat or Republican, if elected in the future, would have the courage to do,” and “that saving Iran is going to be his legacy.”
We’ve heard this song before, too many times to count. Bush supporters love to use terms like ‘steadfast’ and ‘resolve’ when they talk about their favorite president but they would fall over dead before admitting that those characteristics might have a downside. Ya think? A guy who famously doesn’t study issues very deeply will inevitably make some boneheaded and even dangerous decisions. If ‘resolve’ keeps him from ever revisiting his boneheaded decision then you end up with a net loss for everybody.
You might have wondered what happened to the neocons:
“This is much more than a nuclear issue,” one high-ranking diplomat told me in Vienna. “That’s just a rallying point, and there is still time to fix it. But the Administration believes it cannot be fixed unless they control the hearts and minds of Iran. The real issue is who is going to control the Middle East and its oil in the next ten years.”
A senior Pentagon adviser on the war on terror expressed a similar view. “This White House believes that the only way to solve the problem is to change the power structure in Iran, and that means war.”
Yep, still around. I don’t give a shit what connotational baggage the term neocon has picked up over the years, this is their signature: spin stories about an imminent threat (paging Laurie Mylroie) to sell a war whose real goal is to strengthen America’s global standing. Call it oil or geopolitical influence-building or whatever you want, these guys played the same song once already.
No-shit moments come up frequently:
In recent weeks, the President has quietly initiated a series of talks on plans for Iran with a few key senators and members of Congress, including at least one Democrat [named Lieberman – ed. Just a guess.].
…The House member said that no one in the meetings “is really objecting” to the talk of war. “The people they’re briefing are the same ones who led the charge on Iraq.
They consulted the same Congressmen who led the charge on Iraq, and nobody objected. No shit?
Speaking of President Bush, the House member said, “The most worrisome thing is that this guy has a messianic vision.”
If you’re not worried about a nuclear-armed president with a messiah complex, a medieval concept of metaphysics and an insatiable war itch then you have to be kind of slow.
Speaking of nuclear:
One of the military’s initial option plans, as presented to the White House by the Pentagon this winter, calls for the use of a bunker-buster tactical nuclear weapon, such as the B61-11, against underground nuclear sites.
…The lack of reliable intelligence leaves military planners, given the goal of totally destroying the sites, little choice but to consider the use of tactical nuclear weapons. “Every other option, in the view of the nuclear weaponeers, would leave a gap.
…Late this winter, the Joint Chiefs of Staff sought to remove the nuclear option from the evolving war plans for Iran—without success, the former intelligence official said. “The White House said, ‘Why are you challenging this? The option came from you.’”
…The Pentagon adviser on the war on terror confirmed that some in the Administration were looking seriously at this option, which he linked to a resurgence of interest in tactical nuclear weapons among Pentagon civilians and in policy circles. He called it “a juggernaut that has to be stopped.”
Anybody who toys with using offensive nuclear weapons, unprovoked, has simply taken leave of his senses. If we can ‘preempt’ an attack with nuclear weapons, then by what logic can we criticize North Korea for doing the same to us? Because in some metaphysical sense America is ‘good’ and North Korea is ‘evil?’ Baloney. Any leadership willing to inflict collateral nuclear damages on a population that hasn’t attacked them first has an extremely weak claim on metaphysical goodness. The only ‘good’ that a leader like that can claim harkens back to medieval nations of the living saint, the uncorruptable figure whose beatitude makes any action good just by virtue of them doing it. When you think about it, for a president who paints the world in medieval tones of ‘good’ and ‘evil’ and allegedly takes commands from God the concept may not be that much of a stretch.
We have a bipartisan bunch here, so let’s hear what people think about two basic questions. First, do you buy these revelations? Bear in mind that the people who pushed back against Hersh’s Abu Ghraib reoprting were forced to retreat from one trench (nothing bad happened) to the next (if anything bad happened it was only a few bad apples) to the next (Rumsfeld didn’t personally order prisoner abuse) until they had to contort themselves into ridiculous positions in order to avoid giving up entirely (e.g., it isn’t really torture until an organ fails). Seymour Hersh has credibility that his closest parallels on the pro-war side, e.g. Judith Miller or Bob Woodward, don’t.
Second, assume for now that the reporting is accurate and answer whether you’re comfortable to have your major policymakers set themselves on a “crusade” for violent regime change in Iran, most likely employing tactical nuclear weapons. It might sound like a ridiculous question to most, but I expect at least a few to answer in the affirmative.